People’s President Of India
Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen (APJ) Abdul Kalam served as the 11th President of India. He was an aerospace scientist and had a major contribution towards India’s nuclear programme, civilian space programme and military missile development which earned him the title “Missile Man of India”. Dr. Kalam also warmly known as people’s President of India.
Dr. APJ Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in Pamban Island, Rameswaram, earlier it was Madras Presidency and now in the State of Tamil Nadu.
His father Jainulabdeen was a boat owner and imam of a local mosque. His mother’s name was Ashiamma, who was a housewife. Dr. Kalam was the youngest of five siblings, the eldest was a sister and three elder brothers.
His ancestors had been wealthy traders and landowners, with numerous properties and land. They trade groceries and also ferrying the pilgrims from the mainland to the Pamban Island. So, their family got the title “Mara Kalam Iyakkivar” (wooden boat steerers) and later known as “Marakier”.
By 1920s, his family had lost most of his properties, their businesses failed and by the time Abdul Kalam was born in the stage of poverty. To help his family, Kalam started selling newspapers at an early age.
In his school days, Kalam had average grades but was described as one of the bright and hardworking student who had a strong desire to learn. Mathematics was his main interest.
Kalam had completed his matriculation from Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram and later he went to Saint Joseph’s College where he became a physics graduate. In 1955, he went to Madras to study aerospace engineering at Madras Institute of Technology.
During his third year of graduation, he was assigned a project to design a low-level attack aircraft together with a few other students. The given deadline was tight for completing the project and it was very difficult. Kalam worked hard under immense pressure and finally completed his project within the time line.
His dean was impressed by the dedication of Kalam. As a result, Kalam wants to become a fighter jet pilot but he got 9th position in the qualifiers list and only eight positions were available in the IAF.
In 1958: He had joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist.
In the early 1960s: He worked with the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) under the renowned space scientist Vikram Sarabhai. He had started his career by designing a small hovercraft at DRDO. After visiting NASA’s Langely Research Centre in 1963-64, he had started working on an expandable rocket project independently in 1965 at DRDO.
In 1969: He received a transfer orders to the ISRO. There he served as the project director of the SLV-III which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980. It is India’s first indigenously designed and produced satellite launch vehicle.
In 1970: Dr. Kalam started working on Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) which supposed to launch Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite into Sun-Synchronous orbit, It was successful and launched on 20 September 1993.
Also in same year(1970): Dr. Kalam directed two projects namely Project Devil and Project Valiant. Both projects were not successful and was discontinued in the 1980.
In 1980: Abdul Kalam was asked to lead a project of Integrated Guided Missile Development programme (IGMDP) and in 1983 he returned to DRDO as Chief Executive of IGMDP 1983.
Under the leadership of Abdul Kalam: The project of IGMDP proved to be successful by producing missiles like the first Prithvi missile in 1988 and then the Agni missile in 1989. Due to his contribution, he was known as the “Missile Man of India”.
In 1992: He was appointed as the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. With the rank of a cabinet minister.
In 1998: Abdul Kalam played a major role in conducting the Pokhran-II. With the success of these tests, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India a full-fledged nuclear state.
In 1999: He was appointed as the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
Dr. Abdul Kalam served as the President of India: From 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007. He was the first scientist and the first bachelor to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
1981: Dr. Kalam received Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.
1990: Dr. Kalam received Padma Vibhushan from the Government of India.
1994 and 1995: Distinguished Fellow and Honorary Fellow by Institute of Directors India and National Academy of Medical Sciences.
1997: Received Bharat Ratna from Government of India.
1997: Received Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration from the Indian National Congress.
1998: Veer Savarkar Award from the Government of India.
2000: Ramanujan Award from Alwars Research Centre, Chennai.
2007: Honoured with the King Charles II Medal by the Royal Society, U.K., and Doctorate of Science from the University of Wolverhampton, UK.
2008: He won the Hoover Medal given by ASME Foundation, USA and received a Doctor of Engineering from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
2009: The California Institute of Technology , USA, presented Kalam with the International von Karman Wings Award, Hoover Medal by ASME Foundation, USA and Honorary Doctorate by Oakland University.
2010: Doctor Of Engineering by University of Waterloo.
2011: The IEEE honoured Kalam with IEEE Honorary Membership.
2012: Doctor of Laws by Simon Fraser University.
2013: Von Braun Award by the National Space Society.
2014: Doctor Of Science by Edinburgh University, UK.
Dr. Kalam didn’t even own a fridge or air conditioner. From this you can imagine how simple lifestyles he had.
He owned around 2500 books, a wrist watch, 6 shirts, 4 trousers, 3 suits and a pair of shoes. Kalam did not own any property nor a fridge, TV, car or an air conditioner and all this for a man who spent over five decades in public service, including his stint as President of the Republic of India.
The exact amount of his life savings is not known. “It wasn’t much to write home about,” said Sheridan, his secretary for over two decades.
Government allotted him a bungalow at 10 Rajaji Marg. He was firm about not receiving any personal gifts and ensured that all personal gifts were duly tabulated and sent to the government’s treasure-house.
1. Dr. Kalam’s autobiography Wings of Fire: An Autobiography was first published in English. Later it was translated into 13 languages including French and Chinese. There are six additional biographies on his life and works.
2. Dr. Kalam was known as the ‘Missile Man’ of India due to his major contribution towards
3. Dr Kalam held the distinction of holding doctorates from over 40 universities across the world.
4. Dr. Kalam wrote a great deal of poetry in Tamil, and was very fond of playing the stringed instrument Veena. He has also published several books such as Wings of Fire, Ignited Minds, Inspiring Thoughts, and Turning Points etc.
5. Dr. Kalam was a Muslim by religion but did not believe in any religion at heart. He read both the Quran and the Bhagavad Gita.
6. Dr. Kalam was elected MTV Youth Icon twice, in 2003 and 2006.
7. Dr. Kalam considered the great scientist Dr. Vikram Sarabhai as his mentor.
8. Inspired by his life, a Bollywood movie called “I AM Kalam” was also made
Dr. Kalam went to IIM Shillong to deliver a lecture on ‘Creating a Livable Planet Earth,’ on July 27, 2015. Only five minutes into the lecture, around 6:35pm IST, he collapsed in the lecture hall.At 7:45pm IST, India lost a true Gem.
The amount of contributions made by Dr. Kalam to wards India and it’s people are significant. He will always lives in people’s heart of India.
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